People often ask, what is the best way to help young children get fit or healthy through exercise?
Sincerely, one of the best recommendations is playing with gravity. The placement of simple bar structures like this can provide amazing “fitness” for children…while they have fun doing it. Let’s highlight just a few…
Strength by lifting and pulling the body up against gravity and lowering the body with control to work the deeper eccentric contraction benefits too.
Flexibility by allowing gravity to elongate the body and limbs. Simply “hanging” and stretching out provides all kinds of health benefits and goes all the way back to Hippocrates and ancient Greek medicine.
Joint Mobility by moving the body through this structure like a snake…twisting, turning, bending, arching, flexing, extending, spiraling, etc.
Vestibular Enhancement in the inner ears by turning the head in numerous positions both above the heart and below (inversion). Moving in different speeds and different positions with head over time can help children develop “fall prevention” through better balance due to improved vestibular function.
Confidence by calculated risk taking with consequences as children “learn to take chances” by reaching and experimenting. We learn by mistakes–not always by successes or winning or being perfectly safe all the time.
Visual & Spatial abilities are enhanced–a “kinesthetic awareness” is developed through the maze of horizontal and vertical bars and other bodies moving around at different angles and different speeds. Children had to navigate through their playing peers or increase and decrease speed of movement during playful use of the bars further enhancing their control of movement and bodily awareness in space.
So next time someone today says bars are “dangerous” and should be removed from playgrounds and schools, think deeply about what is dangerous. When you stop providing proper equipment and stop teaching children “how to use” the equipment and control their bodies–you create more dangerous movers.
It’s not the equipment that is dangerous–it’s our ignorance of real PE and why it needs to be taught to our children that is dangerous.